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Southern New Jersey ARES Team Assists in Missing-Person Search


Ocean County, New Jersey, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) volunteers recently assisted search groups looking for a man with dementia who was reported missing on November 2 from a nursing home in Stafford Township. Searches concentrating on neighborhoods around the nursing home had been unsuccessful. The missing man’s family organized a search for November 10, and Ocean County ARES was invited to participate.

Ocean County ARES EC Bob Murdock, WX2NJ, had been informed that the search would focus on a wooded area. Tim Tonnesen, NJ2N, was instrumental in contacting the local authorities and working with the family and search teams to organize a search plan, while Murdock looked after the communications technical side and personnel. Temperatures had dropped overnight to around 32° F, and it had rained considerably the night before.

ARES established a net control station at a nearby park, where power, shelter, and rest facilities were available. The search teams were made up of volunteers from the community — more than 140 in all — and the ARES team agreed to coordinate communication among search groups. Ocean County ARES supplied nine radio operators. A VHF repeater proved unreliable for use with handheld transceivers, and communication ultimately took place using a UHF repeater in Toms River, maintained by Ocean County ARES members.

Topographical maps were used to plot out the search areas. By 1 PM, the individual had not been located. ARES members assisted in making sure all volunteers had been accounted for. The search continued that afternoon, without success, and volunteers returned to the rallying point.

While the groups continue hoping for the man’s safe recovery, volunteer Mike Daly, KC2SBR, said the ARES volunteers’ efforts showed practical experience after the search “got pulled together rather quickly and somewhat ad hoc,” with team members having to adjust to changing circumstances, something “no book can teach.” — Thanks to ARRL Southern New Jersey Section Emergency Coordinator Tom Preiser, N2XW 



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